Men’s Basketball Crushes Martin Luther, Aims High


Forward Badou Ba ’25 skies in for a dunk. Photo by Geneve Thomas-Palmer ’25.

Noah Riccardi, Sports Editor

The expectations for these Scots have not been this high in a long time.

Last season, the men’s basketball team emerged from a 1-9 slump to close out the regular season by winning eight of their last 11 games in the regular season. Carrying momentum, they then went on a dream playoff run out of nowhere to face Saint John’s University in the finals of the Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference (MIAC) playoffs, becoming the first ever sixth-seed team to make it to the MIAC finals. With the MIAC’s berth into the NCAA’s D-III national tournament up for grabs, the Scots led into the half but eventually fell 71-75. Despite the loss, the message was sent: these Scots can go places.

In their first test in the new season on Nov. 8 against Martin Luther College, they did not disappoint. After a shaky opening stretch, the Scots opened their season’s scoring with a three from the talismanic guard Caleb Williams ’24. Seconds later, a powerful slam dunk by forward Badou Ba ’25 electrified the home crowd. Soon after, the Scots employed an aggressive full court press and went on a dominant 19-0 scoring run to take the lead, and never looked back. They made things look easy, cruising to a 91-53 victory in front of a raucous home arena.

The Scots hope this will be a sign of good things to come.

The game against Martin Luther highlighted many of the strengths the Scots hope to draw on to carry them past opponents in the coming season. It was a true team win: every Scot got in the scoring column during the game. Ba’s athletic play in the post both offensively and defensively, grabbing 8 rebounds — 5 offensively — and making 3 blocks, was also a major factor in the Scots’ win over the Knights. Coby Gold ’24 also contributed with his outside shooting and passing, putting up 13 points and 5 assists. Williams’ athleticism and determination also shone through, tacking on 17 points and coming away with 6 steals, and on multiple occasions creating plays that electrified the Macalester home crowd. The Scot defense was also stout, stifling the Martin Luther attack for multiple possessions on end and using that defense to create long scoring streaks to run up the margin. 

The win certainly shows the team’s strength, and also highlights improvements in roster depth when compared to last season’s 73-58 win vs Martin Luther. In that game, on Nov. 9th, 2021, the Scots trailed at the half and depended on 37 minutes from both Williams and Gold, who together supplied the majority of the Scots’ points with 40. In that game, the bench scored only 11 points, whereas in this year’s contest, the bench contributed 41, highlighted by guard Eric Wentz ’26 going 5-9 on his shots and scoring 12 points. 

This team, in terms of class years, has an unusual makeup. Out of 14 team members, the team has only one senior, and it has seven sophomores. After the departure of four seniors at the close of the 2021-22 season, Ahad Anjum ’23 is the only senior currently on the squad. 

“I think it holds a lot of weight, being the only senior,” Anjum said. “It’s definitely a challenge being the only senior, but at the same time, I think it’s a welcome challenge.”

Robert Grace IV ’25, one of the team’s many sophomores, also spoke on the character of the young team.

“We’re a young team, we’re always building every day, [we have] a lot of sophomores, one senior . .  . last year we had a great season. And just building on that, we’ve got more experience this year, so I have no doubt we’ll go pretty far,” said Grace IV. “Nothing really changes for our mindset, we’re all here to compete, we all know our potential, and I don’t think age is going to deter that.”

This team’s eye towards success is a newfound development after several seasons of futility before 2018. Before then, the Scots endured a stretch of 10 years with only 35 wins in total, but since then the Scots have improved their record in every season. Now they are hoping to take the momentum of 2021-22, their best season yet, and improve upon it and make waves in the  MIAC.

Of the high expectations, Williams said: “It’s kinda the first season in recent memory where, I think, the target’s on our back, I think we’re one of, if not the best team in the conference . . . there’s a little bit more expectations than normal, but I think we’ll be fine.”

Grace IV exuded confidence and optimism at the prospect of the new season, saying “We have no doubt to win the MIAC championship this year, we have a lot of confidence going in, but we’re also pretty humble, level-headed, we know we’ve just gotta take it 1-0, one day at a time. We have no doubt we should be the top team this year in the MIAC, but we’ve still got to show it every day,” Grace IV said.

The key to and guiding presence behind this recent run of form has been Head Coach Abraham Woldeslassie ’08. Woldeslassie joined as head coach at the beginning of the 2018-19 season, and has improved the team’s record every season he has coached.

“Abe’s our heart of the team, he won’t say that but he is,” Grace IV said. “He keeps everyone going, keeps everyone focused . . . Abe’s a great resource for everyone and he keeps this team together,” said Grace IV. 

Conner Nord, the newly promoted associate head coach, was also a key part of the team’s victory, providing an outstanding scouting report that thoroughly prepared the Scots to take on the Knights.

In the Martin Luther game, and even in practice, another key element of this team’s identity shines through: they play downright fun basketball. These Scots play with tremendous energy, putting the opponent under pressure in all facets of the game. In practice, they encourage and cheer for each other. At home, they have the potential to electrify the Macalester crowd at any moment. 

Guards Caleb Williams ’24 and Robert Grace IV ’25 celebrate near the Macalester bench. Photo by Geneve Thomas-Palmer ’25.

There is definitely a good feeling in and around this basketball squad about what they could do and where they could go this season.

As is common practice for a sports team, the Scots end practice by coming together in a huddle and shouting something in unison, as a show of team unity. The word they said at the end of practice on the eve of their opening game marked out their intentions clearly: ‘championship’.

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